Does the idea of escaping the the miserable Northern Winter and head to Paradise aka Sydney: land of golden sandy beaches, amazing scenery, delicious food, unique wildlife and great weather entice you? Whilst you may not get your traditional cold Christmas, why not try the “hot Christmas” experience as something different? Make your co workers jealous when you come back to work with a suntan. So pack your summer gear and the sunscreen and let us plan a truly amazing experience for you and your family, partner and friends.
Day 1: Sydney Icons: By these I mean the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, the Rocks Market and Botanical Gardens which are located in Circular Quay. These can easily be accessed via trains which stop at Circular Quay station, or alternatively, Circular Quay is a pleasant 10 minute walk from Wynyard station. Enjoy spectacular views of Sydney Harbour, Try to go on a weekend, when the Rocks Markets are open and feature everything from exquisite pictures of Sydney, to jewellery featuring Australian opals and precious gems, handmade soaps and candles and delicious handmade Australian produce including jams, chutneys, nougat, cakes and handmade chocolates. So pick up some souvenirs for your mates back home! Perhaps enjoy a cocktail or a cold drink at the Cruise Bar where you can have a refreshing beverage whilst enjoying Sydney’s spectacular views. Or pop into the Guylian Cafe near the Opera House for a delicious coffee, followed by a relaxing stroll through Sydney’s gorgeous Botannical Gardens. Enjoy a sumptious dinner at one of the Waterfront restaurants such as the Italian Village and perhaps end the day with a spectacular performance at the Opera House such as a musical or ballet. If you happen to be in Sydney in the last weekend of July, you can catch Sydney Coffee Festival in the Circular Quay/Rocks area and sample amazing coffees.
Day 2: More City Sights:
Enjoy a day at Darling Harbour and King Street Wharf. If you have young children, they will enjoy Tumbalong Park. There are always plenty of activities at Darling Harbour as well as Sydney Aquarium and Maritime museum. The aquarium is a must see, with a vast range of aquatic life and the maritime museum depicts a fascinating chronology of Sydney’s maritime and role in WW1 & WW2. If you feel like shopping, the Queen Victoria Building and Sydney Westfield Tower is a 15 minute walk away. There is no shortage of delicious food in Darling Harbour/King Street Wharf Barangaroo. You can also venture to Chinatown and the Chinese Gardens and enjoy authentic Asian food in Chinatown. Perhaps enjoy a cocktail at The Loft and a sumptious meal at Nick’s Seafood, George’s Meditteranean Bar & Grill for some tasty Meditteranean food, Kobe Jones for high end, beautifully presented Japanese food or Tetsuya’s for a Michelin Star Japanese special treat.
Day 3: Sydney’s Famous Bondi Beach:
Bondi Beach is the famous beach in Sydney and can be accessed by taking the train to Bondi Junction, followed by a bus to Bondi Beach. Enjoy golden sand and crystal blue waters.
Day 4: Taronga Zoo:
Taronga Zoo is an enormous zoo featuring a vast range of animals, ranging from Australian marsupials to animals like Giraffes and tigers found on African Safaris with stunning glimpses of Sydney harbour in the background. A great day out for the family.
Day 5: Manly & North Head:
Whilst Bondi Beach might be famous, as a Sydney Sider, I personally think the beaches in Sydney’s North are prettier (and less crowded). Manly Beach is the “hub” of the Northern Beaches and can be accessed by the famous ferry from Circular Quay or by buses from either Wynyard or Chatswood. Manly in itself is a great day out, with many restaurants and cafes to enjoy delicious seafood, cold beverages and ice cream as well as golden sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. When in Manly, you can take a walk down to Shelley Beach, a small cove at the end of Manly Beach. I would also highly recommend going up to North Head for panoramic views of Sydney Harbour from this unique vantage point in Manly.
Day 6: The Blue Mountains:
Take a break from the city and the beaches and do something a bit different. You can perhaps do the Blue Mountains over 2 days if you wish and include a few more activities and go at a more leisurely pace. To get there, you can take the train to Katoomba, hire a car, or perhaps book a tour to the Blue Mountains, to get the most out of your trip and save you the hassle of worrying about transport. When you are there, take in the Breathtaking views at the Three Sisters and the intricate ancient patterns at the Jenolan caves. Then head into Leura for lunch at one of the fabulous cafes and browse the antique shops.
Day 7: Koala Park:
Whilst Taronga Zoo is fabulous, for a more natural, less touristy experience of Australia’s wildlife, why not go to Koala Park? A beautiful sanctuary specializing in native Australian wildlife, you can feed koalas and kangaroos and even mingle with the kangaroos in their natural habitat.
Day 8: The Hunter Valley
Another thing Australia is famous for is its wines, with the nearest wine region to Sydney being the Hunter Valley-a foodie haven, not only featuring fine wines, but also delicious cheeses, olives, chocolates, marinades and cafes. Unless you plan to drive, I would recommend booking a tour to the Hunter Valley as it is not easily accessible by public transport and it can be challenging to cover a large amount of wineries without driving. Its a great day out. Start off with a delicious breakfast at Restaurant Cuvee (Champagne breakfast available!) and explore the wineries, as well as the chocolates, Smoke House, Olive Grove and Cheese factory. Enjoy wine tasting at each winery and have a break for lunch at Nanna Kerrs. Pick up a couple of bottles to enjoy for the rest of your trip, or perhaps as gifts for family and friends. Great scenery, great food & great wine = a great day out!
Day 9: Northern Beaches:
As I mentioned earlier, whilst Bondi is lovely, Sydney’s Northern beaches are prettier and less crowded (no bias, of course!). If you happen to be in Sydney over the Christmas/New Year period, make sure you have the “Australian Christmas” experience of Boxing Day/New Year’s Day on the beach. Nothing beats a barbie on the beach! Bring the chicken skewers, snags, throw a shrimp on the barbie! Enjoy long stretches of golden sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and enjoy a barbie and a few beers! Some of my favourite spots include Palm Beach (where the famous Australian soap “Home & Away” is set), Whale Beach, Freshwater Beach and Curl Curl Beach.
Day 10: Harbour Bridge Climb & Sydney Tower Eye:
The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is another “must do” in Sydney and is a fully guided walk with safety equipment over Sydney’s iconic harbour bridge, with spectacular harbour bridge views. Note that the harbour bridge is closed on New Year’s eve. Sydney Tower Eye is a unique dining experience with panoramic views of Sydney Harbour. Perhaps combine this with any city sites you may have missed earlier. If you happen to be in Sydney over the Christmas/New Year period, don’t miss Carols in the Domain or Tumbalong Park-a huge event featuring celebrity singers, live nativity displays and processions and a truly festive atmosphere. Similarly, for NYE, grab a spot in Bradfield Park, Lavendar Park or Blues Point Reserve and sit back and watch the world of Sydney go by as you enjoy a few chilled beers as the sun sets a couple of hours before the fireworks set off. Sydney is famous for its firework display, so make sure you head over early to grab a great vantage point! For a special and unique evening, book a dinner at a harbourside restaurant well in advance for a spectacular evening to remember forever.
Day 11: Sydney Fish Markets:
Australia has a fantastic range of seafood, with Sydney being no exception. Sydney’s freshest fish can be found at Sydney fish markets, which features some famous seafood restaurants including Doyles, where you can enjoy Sydney’s freshest seafood as well as divine scenery. Perhaps bring a bottle of your Hunter Valley wine to enjoy with your seafood!
Day 12: Reptile Park:
Australian Reptile Park is a hands on zoo, located in the Central Coast, about an hour from Sydney and home to exotic reptiles. A great day out for the family, including live shows, exhibits & behind the scenes tours. Learn about the Tasmanian Devil Breeding Program and conservation works around snake and spider venom. The reptile park can be accessed via the Gosford exit off the M1. Alternatively, the nearest train station is Gosford and coaches/tours can be taken there.
Day 13: Whale Watching
Enjoy a whale watching cruise with a barbecue lunch and listen to full commentary. The cruise departs from King Street Wharf and passes through famous Sydney landmarks including The Opera House, Fort Denison and Manly Heads before entering the Pacific Ocean. The best time to go is between May and November, when as many as 15,000 humpback whales migrate between Antartica and the Great Barrier Reef.
Day 14: Sydney Olympic Park:
Visit the iconic Sydney Olympic Park, where the 2000 Olympics were hosted. Have a swim in the famous Acquatic Centre and explore the stadiums where famous matches and concerts are held. You can also view the Athletes Village-where the athletes stayed during the Olympics.
Hopefully by now the images of golden sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, diverse wildlife and delicious food are so irresistible that you are planning your trip now! Perhaps you can incorporate a visit to another Australian city such as Melbourne, or even one of the Pacific Islands such as New Zealand to round off your trip. Happy Holidays!